NEWCASTLE playwright Vanessa Bates was born in Australia, with her father an Australian man who was in this country's air force and her mother a woman who had been born in the Philippines.
And when she was a child, her father's air force team was transferred to Penang in Malaysia, so she spent her initial school years in that country and saw many of its theatre shows. And her sister was born there. They returned to Australia in her childhood, but her father was soon sent to Malaysia again and she was in a Penang high school for three years before they came back here and lived in a house in Raymond Terrace as her father was based at Williamtown.
So it is not surprising that she has written a play, The One, which is a family comedy-drama with Eurasian characters.
The One was commissioned by Sydney's Ensemble Theatre for its 2022 season and is now having previews at the company's Kirribilli venue before beginning its official season on July 28, which runs until August 27. And many of its performances have been sold out.
Bates recovered recently from COVID-19 and thinks that attending rehearsals and finding the performances to be very enjoyable have helped her recovery.
"I've laughed and cried through them. They have been great," she said.
Bates began acting in a University of Newcastle revue in the late 1980s and was subsequently cast in plays. But when she and a friend complained to a director and asked for better roles to play, the director said "well, maybe you should write them yourself". So that's what she did.
She has won many awards throughout Australia for her plays, including two Newcastle CONDA (City of Newcastle Drama Association) Awards, with the plays' titles, such as A Ghost In My Suitcase, which was adapted from a novel set largely in China, and Here Is The Beehive, having watchers eagerly awaiting to see what will happen.
She has helped to train actors and been a guest lecturer in playwriting at institutions including NIDA (the National Institute of Dramatic Arts) and Newcastle and Wollongong universities. She is also currently studying for a PhD at the University of Newcastle, with theatre as the basis.
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